Six out of ten students who sat for the Form Four national examination last year scored division zero. To put things into perspective a total of 240,903 students out of 397,126 who sat for last year’s national examination scored division zero.
This means that 60.7 percent – or over half of the students -- who sat for 2012 national examination failed and scored division zero. This has never happened in the history of this country since independence some fifty-two years ago.
We are told that only 23,520 out of 397,126 students or 5.92 percent scored first, second and third Division. The rest, which is 34 percent scored Division Four, which in a strong ranking is also a failure because these students cannot go for further studies.
The 2013 Form Four results are a demonstration of a failed education system. In a situation where there are not enough teachers, and the available ones are ill-trained and poorly paid, this is the best pay-back we deserve as a nation.
In a situation where there aren’t not enough textbooks, let alone reference books, no science laboratories and no libraries in our secondary schools, it would have been a miracle to have any better performance.
In a situation where those who pass the Standard Seven National examination shun government schools and opt to join private schools, it means we are in a serious education crisis.
Between the 1960s and 1980s, government’s schools were the best in terms of the learning environment and performance. Every student studied very hard to book a slot in these schools because they offered quality education not quantity. Today, our children aren’t willing to join government schools because of the pathetic situation in which they operate.
Today, it’s not clear whether we have a curriculum or not, and if we have one, it has been changed so often that it confuses the teachers and senior education managers.
For the past few years, our curricula for both primary and secondary education have undergone so many changes aimed at accommodating some greedy and visionless officers at the Ministry of Education and Vocational Trainings.
In 1980s, the late Jackson Makweta, then Minister for Education introduced a mandatory national form two examination aimed at raising the quality of secondary education, but between 1995 and 2012, the system has been abused so much that there isn’t any clear direction. There was a time when this examination was removed without any explanation, then it re-introduced yet again after it was established that without it, there was no other means to check the quality of our students.
All these are happening in our education system, but nobody seems to care. That’s why even with the worst ever performance of the 2012 Form Four national examinations, neither the minister nor his deputy have taken political responsibility.
In a serious nation where education means life or death, Minister for Education Dr Shukuru Kawambwa and his deputy Philipo Mulugo would have resigned to demonstrate mature political responsibility for the abysmal performance in last year’s national examinations. Else, they should have been sacked by the appointing authority immediately to send signal that as a nation, we aren’t ready to accept mass failures.
But all of them are comfortable as if nothing happened. Though we are aware that the mass failures are a combination of some key factors, still those tasked to lead the education ministry should have taken responsibility following the historic poor performance.
But it’s business as usual, it seems, because those mass failures are simply a passing cloud that will also come to pass like many other scandals that have rocked this nation in the past. This demonstrates the level of our seriousness as a nation about the education situation. Today, our leaders are openly preaching what they don’t even believe.
While our leaders encourage fellow citizens to trust government schools, especially ward secondary schools, they themselves are not even ready to allow their children to school there; they are instead taking their children to expensive private schools even when those children have passed the national examination and selected to join government’s schools.
When a private motion was tabled in Parliament recently, our legislators decided to make it a matter of party ideology by embarking on fruitless debates at the cost of taxpayers’ billions.
What our honourable legislators do not understand is that performance in our schools doesn’t fall along political party ideologies.
That’s why we ask today: how serious are we in managing the education system?